Dave Sergeant

The Lea Valley Walk follows the Lea Canal and River over its London sections. It forms part of the longer LDWA trail which follows the Lea from its source in Bedfordshire down to the Thames.

Sections 3 and 4 - Tottenham Hale to Three Mills - July 22nd 2020

This walk continues the TFL Lea Valley walk which I started back in March and now does sections 3 and 4 down to Bow, around 5 miles. Train up to Waterloo decidedly busier even compared with last week but most got off at Clapham Junction and Waterloo seemed fairly quiet. It seemed somewhat strange getting on a Bakerloo line train at 10am and finding that virtually empty, but some of the other tube trains were quite busy.

So off we started at Tottenham Hale station, where I had left off in March. The major building works there were now in full flow and it took me a few minutes to navigate the 'turn left out of the station' and find the right road, even asking one of the workmen how to get to the canal. But once there I turned away from all the noisy traffic and onto the quiet Lea canal. Plenty of cyclists to keep an eye out for, joggers and walkers. Lovely day and soon had to take my coat off.

A short diversion off the (now River) Lee into Markfield Park. In here is the Markfield Beam Engine, built in 1888, which can be viewed in its museum on various Sundays but probably not at all at the moment. I remember plotting the characteristics of beam engines at University 50 years ago so guess I know all about those. Then a group of youngsters having a go at kayaking, it is all happening.

Then across to the east side of the river via the horseshoe bridge, a much smaller version of the same in Reading. There is a small marina here with loads of boats docked. After Springfield Park the Capital Ring merges from the west and the next few miles I have already walked as part of that.

Passing Walthamstow Marsh the towpath becomes quite narrow in places and the cyclists still managed to get through. What lovely reflections in the river. Hackney Marsh and the former Middlesex filter beds is now a nature reserve, last time I did a diversion in there to explore but not today. Eventually the river goes past the Olympic park and I remember the wonderful views of this from the river bank - but in the past couple of years all sorts of buildings and construction work have sprung up around the park and most of that splendid view is no more. The old stadium of course is now the home of West Ham. Short distance further along at Old Ford Lock the Capital Ring turns off to the left and I am on new ground again.

Among the various boats moored along the river was this one covered extensively with electronic components and other things - there are a few computer pcbs there amongst other things, the photo doesn't really do it justice. A big sign 'what do you think of this boat' - a little strange I would say. The Lea now approaches Bromley by Bow and Three Bridges where this leg ends. The Lee itself continues down to the Thames but most of the stretch is not accessible by foot. There are long standing proposals to change that, the Fat Walk was supposed to open for the Olympics, then the name was changed to the Leaway but apart from a couple of little bits it remains a pipe dream. So for the moment to continue you either go via the Limehouse Cut (section 5) or a boring trek through industrial Canning Town (section 6). So I stopped for the day here and followed an equally boring route past a big Tesco then along the busy A12 and an underpass to the tube station where I went to London Bridge and a nice late lunch at a riverside pub before walking to Waterloo and back home.

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